July 28, 2020 Tribal, Legal

Federal court rules that Oklahoma gaming compact automically renews

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A federal court ruled that Oklahoma’s gaming compact automatically renews, giving the state’s tribes a legal victory over Governor Kevin Stitt.

Nine tribes had argued that the gaming compact automatically renewed for an additional 15 years after its initial expiration on 1 January, 2020. 

Gov. Stitt believes the January expiration gives the state authority to rewrite a new compact. Stitt wants to increase the state’s take of gaming revenue from tribal-owned casinos. 

“I am deeply disappointed by the federal court’s ruling. It confirms my fears, and the fears of many fellow Oklahomans, that the State entered into a poorly negotiated deal and now we must bear the cost of this mistake,” Stitt said in a statement. 

Timothy DeGiusti, a federal judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, argued that the compact’s language grants automatic renewal if tribes are authorized to conduct electronic gaming in any form. 

“It is undisputed that organization licensees (horse racetracks) have been authorized, and are currently authorized, to conduct electronic gaming as well as betting on live horse racing,” DeGiusti wrote. 

State tribal leaders expressed satisfaction with the court ruling. 

“The Cherokee Nation is pleased with today’s ruling which affirms what our tribal nations have known from the beginning, that our gaming compacts with the state of Oklahoma renewed on Jan. 1 for another 15 years,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. 

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